By Shirley Castillo, Legal Intern and Rachel H. Khedouri, Esq.
On June 7, 2023, amendments went into effect expanding the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act (New York State Labor Law Section 206-c), which requires all employers in New York State, regardless of the size or nature of their business, to provide reasonable unpaid break time for their employees to express breast milk for up to three years following the birth of a child. As previously reported HERE, the amendments set forth specific requirements for workplace lactation rooms to be provided by employers and also mandate that all employers adopt a lactation accommodation policy. The New York State Department of Labor (the “Department”) has now issued a model written “Policy on the Rights of Employees to Express Breast Milk in the Workplace” (the “Policy”) along with additional guidance for employers on complying with the law. The Policy provides information to employees on:
- Their right to use break time for breast milk expression at least every three hours as needed, including the ability to opt to use paid break or meal time to express breast milk or to choose to work before or after their regular shift (during the company’s normal work hours) to make up unpaid break time;
- The requirement to provide advance written notification to the company of a request to express breast milk during work — preferably before returning to the workplace from maternity leave – to allow the employer time to identify an appropriate location and adjust schedules, if necessary;
- The obligation of the employer to respond to an employee’s request for a location to express breast milk in writing within five days of receiving the request and to notify all employees in writing when a location has been so designated;
- Specific requirements that must be met for the room or other location designated for breast milk expression;
- How to file a complaint with the Department regarding possible retaliation or other policy violations; and
- How to contact the U.S. Department of Labor for more information relating to violations of the Providing Urgent Maternal Protections for Nursing Mothers (“PUMP”) Act.
New York employers should adopt the Policy as written by the Department and consider whether to add other accommodations tailored to their own workplace. Employers also should ensure that their lactation policies and procedures, including any lactation spaces available to employees, meet or exceed the new requirements under the Nursing Mothers in the Workplace Act, as well as similar requirements under federal and applicable local laws.
All employers must provide the Policy in writing (either through email or printed copy) to all employees when they are hired, and annually thereafter. Employers also must provide the Policy to employees as soon as they return to work following the birth of a child
If you need assistance reviewing your workplace lactation policies and implementing New York’s newly expanded accommodation obligations, please reach out to the NFC Attorney with whom you typically work or call us at 973.665.9100.